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Ballmer: Don't Expect Simpler Licensing Soon

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the but-i-want-a-pony dept.

260

nk497 writes "Steve Ballmer has admitted Microsoft's licensing is too complicated and contains too much fine print, but has no plans to change it at the risk of angering shareholders — and even customers who benefit from the confusion. "I'm sure we have fine print we don't need. We're not saints," he said, adding that customers have a way of figuring out how to pay the least amount of cash possible to use Microsoft's software. "Customers always find an approach which pays us less money.""

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Absolutly (5, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644665)

We take advantage of MSDN, it's MUCH cheaper to pay for MSDN subscriptions for our technical staff then it is to pay for ~2/3rd's of our environment (Dev+Test). It's also nice to use Windows Datacenter licenses to pay for an entire stack of VM's.

Re:Absolutly (5, Insightful)

POTSandPANS (781918) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644819)

So what you are saying is that licensing is not that complicated if you have a bunch of cash to throw around?

Re:Absolutly (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29645485)

Yeah, if you can afford to throw around.. oh, what is it, $10-$12k per developer PER YEAR, then I guess MS licensing is not a problem? (That's the license cost for Visual Studio 2008 with Team Suite and all the trimmings.)

I'm pretty convinced that MS developer licensing is designed to be confusing in order to extract a maximum amount of money. The VAR that I used to work with that did the MS licensing couldn't figure it out, either, until they got an MS specialist on board, and EVEN THEN the MS specialist couldn't figure out what I needed for a small team development environment.

Note to Ballmer: there's a reason why developers don't like to develop for Microsoft products, and it's mostly tied up in the licensing crap. Second note to Ballmer: $12k/year for full VSTS 2008 is retarded. You want cool Microsoft software, lower the price down to about $250.

Re:Absolutly (4, Insightful)

segedunum (883035) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645099)

We take advantage of MSDN, it's MUCH cheaper to pay for MSDN subscriptions for our technical staff then it is to pay for ~2/3rd's of our environment (Dev+Test).

Yes it is nice.......... Until you realise that, if you stupidly buy into it, as a development company you are stipulating Microsoft software and licensing as a prerequisite for any deployment or implementation of your work for a customer. You can't use your MSDN licenses there. You will also have to factor that into your quote, budget and costs. Why do you think Microsoft has MSDN? A lot of silly companies who are built around being Microsoft partners and using MSDN have found it tough because Microsoft always takes their cut regardless.

Re:Absolutly (5, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645207)

Uh, the vast majority of businesses are just fine paying for MS licenses to run software. There are a few all Linux/Unix shops out there but they are by far in the minority. I know most of the software we buy absolutely dwarfs the cost of the hardware + MS licenses (most of the purchases we've made in the last couple years have been mid 6-figures to 7 figures + equal costs for implementation consultants, the cost of our MS licenses barely breaks into the 6 figure range across all systems). It's a cost of doing business just like any other.

Re:Absolutly (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645581)

you are stipulating Microsoft software and licensing as a prerequisite for any deployment or implementation of your work for a customer.

Well, where I work we tend to use whatever the customer wants us to use, at least in terms of the OS. We get asked for Windows, .NET, MS SQL Server, etc, just as we get asked for Linux, Java, Oracle, etc.

Besides which, the cost of the MS software is utterly dwarfed by some of the COTS products we've used - on my last project the CMS alone cost a quarter of a million GBP before we even started to customise it.

Re:Absolutly (1)

Anonymusing (1450747) | more than 4 years ago | (#29646233)

on my last project the CMS alone cost a quarter of a million GBP before we even started to customise it.

Which CMS? (no, I'm not going to suggest anything open source; I have run some of the expensive commercial CMS's and am just curious what you meant)

Re:Absolutly (1)

pi865 (1434123) | more than 4 years ago | (#29646365)

why didn't you use Wordpress MU?

Re:Absolutly (2, Interesting)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645813)

The number one problem with Microsoft's licensing scheme is just that. The licensing scheme itself. "This product is licensed, not sold." I call "BULLSHIT!" I bought it, just like I would buy a damned BOOK! I have the physical floppies and CD's for several MS operating systems. They are mine, and not MS's. I will use them as I see fit, as often as I see fit, and in any manner that I see fit to use them. End of story. When MS understands that concept, then we might get along. When they understand that I can and will decompile and disasseble if and when I see fit, and that I might rebuild any part, or even all of their code to my liking, then we might get along. Sure, if I build a better kernel, or even a better DLL, I'll credit MS for their original work - but they need to understand that it is my RIGHT to look inside the freaking DLL, .exe, or whatever I choose to look at. Screw Microsoft.

Re:Absolutly (1, Interesting)

kelzer (83087) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645969)

Well, considering that you've just confessed to breaking a number of laws (DCMA, copyright, etc.) you may need to change your Slashdot username to Runaway2009.

Obligatory Open Source comment (5, Funny)

jo42 (227475) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644677)

customers have a way of figuring out how to pay the least amount of cash possible to use Microsoft's software

Yes. It's "Format C:" followed by installing some flavor of Linux and Open Office.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (3, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644773)

Why the "Format C:" bit? Is the previous step in your money-saving plan "buy a computer with Windows on it"?

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (3, Informative)

parodyca (890419) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644881)

Hell Yeah, Have you ever tried to buy a computer without windows on it? It is always cheaper to by a windows machine and wipe the OS then it is to buy a NoOS machine.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (4, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644903)

Have you ever tried to buy a computer without windows on it?

Uh-huh. They're called "parts." :)

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29645025)

A computer is almost synonymous with "laptop" or "netbook" these days. You don't build these yourself from "parts." Back on topic: Buying a computer with an OS only to replace it with a free OS does not give Microsoft less money. Buying a computer with a free (or no) OS and replacing it with an existing license of Windows (MSDN-AA, defective or recycled computer, etc.) screws MS out of a few bucks.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645059)

A computer is almost synonymous with "laptop" or "netbook" these days.

Hm. That's news to me. Oh well.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29645079)

You do if you want to spend a lot of money.
OCZ sells a do-it-yourself laptop kit for gaming laptops / desktop replacements, you add the CPU, hard drive, RAM, even GPU IIRC.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645197)

You can built a nettop from parts if you are stubborn enough.

Before ION nettops got on the market there were plenty of impatient people building their own.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29645199)

You can also not agree to the EULA and contact the manufacturer of your laptop. Usually you can get a rebate of $100 or so back for not using windows. The windows based pc is typically cheaper, then you take it down even further by getting the rebate. MS gets nothing and you get a cheap pc.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29646439)

A computer is almost synonymous with "laptop" or "netbook" these days.

Absolutely, if you're a self centred idiot such as yourself. Because whatever you assume should be what the rest of us 6 billion people on earth assume when we hear the word "computer". Get fucking real kid, and get out of that bubble of yours.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (5, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645067)

I'm not so sure about that. It's getting harder and harder to buy parts and build your own for cheaper than you can get a pre-assembled box. These days, the only reason to build your own is if you want to pick and choose every component for quality, in which case cost is not your primary driver. If you're going for cheap, something pre-assembled from Dell or a similar company is usually cheaper, especially if you consider the value of your time. Even if you value your time at $0/hr, you can still often get a pre-built from Dell cheaper than a comparable build-your-own system.

I've never bought a pre-built system in my life, but I'm seriously considering it now that I'm looking to replace my 4 year old desktop system. It's just not worth the hassle to build your own when it doesn't really save you any money anymore.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645165)

I guess it probably depends on what you're using it for ("gaming" systems are ridiculously overpriced). Lower-end systems are pretty cheap these days, yeah. I haven't recently checked at expandability either, though. I know it used to be that the lower-end systems were really bad if you wanted to say, add more RAM or a better video card.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645259)

Dells are not terribly flexible and you are pretty much buying yourself an oversized Mac mini.

OTOH, the Dells are also dramatically cheaper and can be bought with more options.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29646219)

Who needs 192GB RAM? It'll cost [dell.com] ya.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (1)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645483)

This is interesting because I have just finished pricing out a middle-range desktop at Newegg and have been comparing it to nearly identical prebuilt setups from the usual suspects.

They're pretty much identical in price.

I'll leave discovering why shipping an assembled system isn't as smart as shipping components as an exercise for the reader, but this also gives you fine-grain control over part quality. If that's not something you're concerned about, you should really just eat an extra fifty and go pick up an off-the-shelf from Best Buy.

Re:Building PC's (4, Informative)

MindPrison (864299) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645613)

Same here, until my last computer - that is.

Prebuilt consumer computers are really crappy. Take my latest HP Pavillion Quad Core as an example, after 1 month, the keyboard stopped working, after 3 months the wireless module went to wifi-heaven where little wifi things go (All wifi's goes to heaven, the movie), and after the 5th month, the DVD stopped accepting pretty much any DVD & games even though there where no dust. I'm just waiting for the next thing to break for no reason. At work it's the same thing, the pre-built one breaks down, not the ones I built - they still stand!

Re:Building PC's (4, Insightful)

mitgib (1156957) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645919)

Just like any other business or government body, the lowest bidder gets the contract. When the P4 came out, Dell stopped making good quality PC's and focused more on low bidder parts fulfillment.

Re:Building PC's (2, Informative)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29646123)

Ditto here, from experience. My home brews just keep on going, and going, and going, while the pretty store bought machines that the wife likes fall apart. I don't buy the most expensive, highest quality parts either - just good, solid items with good reviews. The wife finally took a stab at her own home brew machine, without asking my advice. The result was only very slightly better than a store bought, because she didn't know which numbers to look at, and didn't take the customer reviews into account. Ehhh - she's learns slowly, but I think she's finally convinced that she should ask my advice next time around.

Step one: google for overclocking forums, visit them, and see what all the super nerds are using for mainboards. Choose popular mainboard that you can afford, then choose the fastest CPU you can afford for that architecture. Load it with memory, and proceed from there. Together, we've been burnt by a cheap mainboard more times than all other components combined. The uber-geeks have those boards figured out two days after the prototype hits the news! Using any of their top 10 favorites guarantees a good solid machine that will last a long, long time.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (1)

soupforare (542403) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645615)

I agree, especially if you hold out for a slickdeal. I just helped my brother get set up with a core2quad dell vostro (not the SFF one). We maxed the ram out and put a monster video card in, it destroys his old machine, he's happy.
I couldn't have built it from scratch as cheap as he got it, and certainly not if you include the massive widescreen ultrasharp that came with it.

Just avoid the extreme low-end and/or SFF machines. That's the only time you'll run into issues with prebuilt machines, ime.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#29646409)

I didn't even know you could still get Monster video cards. Much less that a 3dfx Voodoo II would be competitive in todays game market.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (3, Informative)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645765)

DIY = CUSTOM build

The reason to DIY is because you need a config that DELL doesn't offer. Oh, like building a MythTV box with SATA Raid and hot swap cage for the HDs. Or even the proverbial "Gaming Rig".

However, if what you want is a computer for your house, then DELL (or HP or ...) is a completely viable choice.

The problem isn't DIY being "cheaper" it is that you can get a customized rig built the way you want for the purposes you need.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (2, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29646375)

The other part of DIY is that I, like I suspect many others, simply don't buy whole computers at a time anymore. I keep several systems up and running for various OS's and such, but pretty much never do I build a whole one from scratch.

For my "main" system, it gets upgrades - always. A processor here, a motherboard there, few extra sticks of ram, throw in a hard drive, etc. It's a constantly evolving beast. I've found that if I chuck $150-250 per year into that system (which really isn't that much for someone who's into computers) that I can keep it performing very, very nicely. The parts that get replaced get hand-me-downed into my other systems or added to the spare parts pile.

If I decide I need a new computer for purpose XYZ, I visit the parts pile in my computer room. I've got half a dozen ATX cases, about as many power supplies, various hard drives, sound cards, video cards, etc. An extra monitor or two, and lots of RAM sticks from all over. Example literally from last night: my Linux machine needs a boost ATM. It's running an old Athlon XP 2100 with 1GB of RAM. It's got a good case/ps though, and the 80GB hard drive is fine. I've got a Geforce 7300LE sitting in the pile o' stuff unused. Also over there is 2GB worth of DDR2 that my main system couldn't use (ran out of slots), and an Athlon X2 2.6Ghz that I took out of the main system when I upgraded it. All I was missing to get that system where I wanted it was an AM2 motherboard, which I ordered off of ebay for $40.

Incrementally adjusting a system like this has it's advantages. If you were to build from scratch the first time, you might still be breaking even, but you get a platform that's much more standard and lends itself to doing this type of thing (as opposed to so many proprietary systems where the case, mobo, ps, etc just won't work with industry standard stuff). Sure it's not for your average user, but generally Slashdot readers, or people who are looking for a system without Windows so as to install Linux, are not your average user.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (2, Informative)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#29646481)

It's also about quality. I can get much better parts piecemeal than I can from a big box. They have the cheapest motherboards they can source, same with power supplies and video cards, everything.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 4 years ago | (#29646019)

I always build my own desktop systems, and not to save money, but to have the best & fastest system possible for my budget. I always get comments on how unbelievably faster my desktop is than anything my friends can get from Dell. That's because I cherry pick the video card(s), the cooling, everything. Plus I tune the os (XP right now, system's primary func is gaming), turning off services (the nttp & web clients for example, gone!) and systems I don't need. If any one component, like the p/s, goes out, I pull out the dead part and replace it. I'm off line only for as long as it takes to replace that part.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (1)

TREE (9562) | more than 4 years ago | (#29646187)

It's still worthwhile if you aren't upgrading the OS. Replacing MOBO + CPU + RAM is still cheaper than replacing a whole machine. Keeping the case, power supply, drives, keyboard, mouse, monitor, etc. etc.

Motherboards have gotten so all-inclusive lately, and USB so ubiquitous, that expandability is generally moot. Unless you're gaming, of course.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (1)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 4 years ago | (#29646249)

It all depends. You cannot save money by building a lower-end machine yourself anymore; economies of scale did away with that. But, you can still save money building a mid-range computer. If you get newegg's mailings, they usually have some nice deals on some combination of motherboard/cpu/memory/tower that'll save you a lot of money.

You say you value your time - do you enjoy building computers, or is it a chore? Given an $800 pre-built and $800 worth of equivalent parts, I'd take the parts in a heartbeat. If you value your time at $100/hr, you may never come out ahead building your own machine anymore. Buying pre-built also gives you a single warranty, as opposed to a hodge-podge of retailer and manufacturer warranties with different RMA proceedings. (But, I've had better luck with NewEgg and the OEMs than Dell and HP!)

You may want to take a middle route - buy a pre-built desktop and then upgrade it. When my school was ordering laptops from HP, they would have charged us $100/unit for an extra gig of RAM. Instead, they bought the DIMMs for peanuts and had us student workers install them. Going this route saves you 90% of the labor, and you don't get gouged for anything above the base model.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29645269)

Have you ever tried to buy a computer without windows on it?

Uh-huh. They're called "parts." :)

The idea was to save money.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644999)

Buy the parts and build your own. It will be cheaper, you get exactly what you want and no os.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (1)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645041)

ebuyer begs to differ:

Acer Extensa E420 Desktop, AMD 1640B Athlon, 1GB RAM, 160GB HDD, DVDRW, Linux
Extra Value Celeron Dual Core E3200 Business PC 4GB DDR2, 320GB SATA HDD, DVDRW, NO O/S
Extra Value Pentium Dual Core E5400 Business PC 2.7GHz, 4GB DDR2, 750GB SATA HDD, DVDRW, NO O/S
Mesh Desktop PC, Pentium E5400 2.7GHz, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, DVDRW, No Operating System

Prices start at £149 inc tax for the low-end Acer.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (3, Insightful)

AnalPerfume (1356177) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645213)

That would be the subsidized trialware model. If you have plenty of companies paying to have their 30 day trial shit installed on every box, it offsets the cost of Windows, giving the illusion that Windows is free when it's not. Retailers should be forced to provide a Windows refund form with every sale of a new PC, since they refuse to offer the customer the choice of actually buying it without Windows. They should also be forced to list it as a separate item in the pricing, as it's not a requirement to run the PC.....of course doing that would let the whole trialware racket out of the bag too.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (3, Interesting)

Nerdposeur (910128) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645275)

I bought a Dell with Ubuntu back in April. It was cheaper than the equivalent Windows machine AND came with a bigger monitor.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (1)

jaavaaguru (261551) | more than 4 years ago | (#29646009)

Yes, the last 3 I bought didn't have Windows on them, and no they weren't all Macs.

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (2, Insightful)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645097)

customers have a way of figuring out how to pay the least amount of cash possible to use Microsoft's software

Yes. It's "Format C:" followed by installing some flavor of Linux and Open Office.

You are modded as informative, so does this mean Microsoft now owns "some Linux flavor" as well as owns Open Office?

If not, how exactly is installing 'some linux distro' and open office a way to pay the least for Microsoft software??

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (1, Redundant)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645659)

Actually, the "Format C:" step is a waste of time, because the Linux installer will reformat the drive again for you using the file system of your choice (default is typically ext3 or ext4).

Re:Obligatory Open Source comment (2, Funny)

o0u812 (1240098) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645869)

customers have a way of figuring out how to pay the least amount of cash possible to use Microsoft's software

Yes. It's "Format C:" followed by installing some flavor of Linux and Open Office.

Ah yes, you must be referring to Microsoft's linux distro [mslinux.org] .

MS licensing is very simple... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29644691)

buy it and you're fucked.

Re:MS licensing is very simple... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29644779)

buy it and you're fucked.

The polar opposite of FOSS; don't buy it and don't get fucked :)

Re:MS licensing is very simple... (0, Offtopic)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645801)

I guess I'm in the slashdot minority, nut I like fucking.

I have: (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29644695)

I use Linux. Case closed.

WTF? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29644697)

"Customers always find an approach which pays us less money.""

Other than piracy, switching to Mac or Linux I don't know what he means? Sounds like sour grapes. I guess he feels his paycheck should be bigger. It's a wallet not a phallic symbol.

Re:WTF? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644841)

Read the article. It doesn't sound like he's really being disparaging towards those customers (and he seems to be referring to companies, not individuals)

Re:WTF? (4, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644851)

He's talking about bulk-licencing customers. Corporations and educational institutions.

Re:WTF? (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645827)

Yah, we save a ton with our Microsoft Campus Agreement. We pay about $4000/year for the ability to install about 300 copies of Windows and Office. Considering the cost of XP is about $150+, it's a pretty good deal, even over the long term.

Re:WTF? (1)

WilyCoder (736280) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645249)

"It's a wallet not a phallic symbol."

Tell that to my ex wife.

Dastardly Customers! (1)

yogibaer (757010) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644705)

So it's official. Everyone's a pirate, always on to lookout to pay less for more... So, in conclusion the real copyright problem (and licensing is a part of copyright) is the customer! Solution: Get rid of customers! Save Copyright! License as complicatedly as you like, never again worry about fine print or versions galore, be all you can be...

Steve Ballmer is a whiner (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29644711)

Steve Ballmer is such a whiner.. Oh poor us, customers don't want to pay us /cry. Make a product customers actually want to buy and you won't have this problem!

Re:Steve Ballmer is a whiner (2, Insightful)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644845)

If they didn't grossly overcharge for the product, most people would have no complaints. When you charge $200 for an OS when $50 or $60 is the amount people are happy to pay, you don't have complaints about pricing.

Re:Steve Ballmer is a whiner (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645909)

Apart from licensing costs (which are outrageously high), the complexity of their licensing schemes have other results. During my SAM review, I was told that a pack of 5 CALs I'd bought for one of our Server 2003 machines had to be installed as device CALs, because, apparently, the copy of Server 2003 in question had been bought via bulk licensing, and somewhere in the vast licensing agreements it apparently states that you can't run retail CALs as user CALs on a bulk-purchased version of Server.

Re:Steve Ballmer is a whiner (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 4 years ago | (#29646045)

They can charge whatever they want. Vendor lock-in only works by being cheaper than switching.
If they get too greedy, even Macs would become more cost-effective than continuing with MS.

Re:Steve Ballmer is a whiner (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#29646483)

If they didn't grossly overcharge for the product, most people would have no complaints.

I daresay that you don't know "most people" so well... ;)

This is a non-issue for Microsoft's Customers (5, Interesting)

mpapet (761907) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644749)

I'll give you a hint, their customers are not the admins who actually have to comprehend and create policy/procedure to abide by License terms. They have two primary customers.
1. The retail consumer who doesn't read EULA's and willfully violates them.
2. The purchasing manager/executive class.

Sysadmins aren't on that list.

Moreover, Mr. Ballmer is giving the implicit nod to violate the terms of the license agreements. Guess who loses on that deal? The sysadmin!

Bad summary. And bad article. (4, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644823)

It looks like most of the article takes small quotes from Ballmer and presumably paraphrases the rest. There aren't a whole lot of quotes form Ballmer himself. And the slashdot summary is even worse. Firstly, he appears to be referring to companies with this quote, not end user customer type peoples (emphasis mine):

But he claimed that the finer details of the licensing system give some companies the opportunity to save money. "Customers always find an approach which pays us less money," he claimed.

Here are some of the *other* quotes from the article that the summary left out.

"Every time you simplify something, you lose something that people used to save money," he added, suggesting that even minor changes to the system could hurt some of its customers.

"The goal is to simplify without a price increase," Ballmer said, adding: "Our shareholders want simplicity without a price decrease."

He added that customers donâ(TM)t want simplicity for the sake of it, claiming that the last time Microsoft tried that route, customer ratings of the firm "plummeted for two years."

Ballmer seems to also be noting that shareholders and customers want two different things: shareholders want Microsoft to charge more and do it more simply, and customers want Microsoft to charge less and do it more simply. Everyone wants it simpler, but simpler+price-decrease and simpler+price-increase are two different things. But don't read what he really said. Just assume he means the worst and let's pretend that one of the largest (the largest?) software companies has a complete idiot in charge and that EVERYONE knows he is an idiot but they keep him there anyway. Or something like that?

Re:Bad summary. And bad article. (1)

twmcneil (942300) | more than 4 years ago | (#29646105)

He added that customers don't want simplicity for the sake of it, claiming that the last time Microsoft tried that route, customer ratings of the firm "plummeted" for two years."

Is talking about Bob?

No, serious question. Maybe he's referring to a licensing situation that I am unaware of.

"Customers always find an approach..." (1)

eepok (545733) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644835)

"Customers always find an approach which pays us less money."

No no no... *some* customers find ways to pay as little money as possible. Since Windows rarely, if ever, goes "on sale" though, most people who follow the rules just pay full price or pay the Microsoft Tax when they buy a new computer. Factor in school deals, corporate deals, etc. and you have a crap-ton of licenses being sold for the Microsoft-price (the one they agree to).

*Some* customers always find an approach..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29645873)

The champions at obfuscated contracts are the telcos. The whole point of their contracts is to make it near impossible to figure out how to minimize your cell phone bill. My wife's cell annual (business) phone bill dropped by thousands when a knowledgeable and honest salesperson clued her in. AFAICT, there's only one such sales person in our town (150,000 pop.).

I agree with the many other posters who say the only way to save money on Microsoft licenses is to use Linux. Just like cell phone contracts, there's no way a mortal human can figure out Microsoft's contracts.

Always about the money. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29644913)

They should have enough by now to start their own country.

Ballmer: "We're not saints" (5, Insightful)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644929)

No shit. When was the last time Microsoft did something the customers wanted, instead of forcing them to "take it or leave it". When was the last time any Office application didn't brake file compatibility with previous versions. When was the last time you felt like you actually own a Microsoft software product, and don't have to rent it AND justify yourself every time you need to install it on a new computer? Last time some Microsoft protocol didn't break compatibility with competing, or even older own protocols? I don't know, it feels like forever.

Licensing issues are really just the tip of the iceberg of this Satan's spawn called Microsoft.

Re:Ballmer: "We're not saints" (4, Informative)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645033)

When was the last time Microsoft did something the customers wanted, instead of forcing them to "take it or leave it".

I've never been forced to. I upgrade/install on my own. Work/corporate environment is a different story, but at home I choose my OS.

When was the last time any Office application didn't brake file compatibility with previous versions.

Saving or reading? I just save in XP/2000/2007 format. Works fine, including with openoffice, which is what I use anyway.

When was the last time you felt like you actually own a Microsoft software product, and don't have to rent it AND justify yourself every time you need to install it on a new computer?

I've installed and re-installed XP many, many times. I have always felt like I owned it. I've installed Vista (and Windows 7, actually) multiple times with no problem. Yes, I "register" or activate it. No issues with it. Even the phone activation is quite simple. Some of my other software, like Sibelius [sibelius.com] gives me a much, much, much harder time with activation and whatnot. But it's good software and I like using it, so I deal with it.

Last time some Microsoft protocol didn't break compatibility with competing, or even older own protocols?

Like what?

I don't know, it feels like forever.

When was the last time you USED a Microsoft OS (or Office)?

Re:Ballmer: "We're not saints" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29645237)

Oh i dunno. i feel i own this copy of windows... after all.. i went and downloaded it off a torrent site that doesnt exist anymore. ran it thru nlite. removed all the garbage. put in the right drivers, updates, patches, and service packs. and burnt it to a dvd.

then installed it. removed all the other garbage nlite wont remove. changed all the defaults that are stupid. and installed my various apps.

Sure seems like i did alot of work. so its mine. license? never saw one of those...

Re:Ballmer: "We're not saints" (0, Troll)

CodingHero (1545185) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645537)

When was the last time you felt like you actually own a Microsoft software product . .

No end user OWNS any software he/she buys anymore. Everything is licensed. This software ownership you speak of is so 1980s.

MS developing new networking protocols for DoD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29645895)

Now the DoD is going to pay Microsoft to develop a new networking protocol for them (http://defensenews-updates.blogspot.com/2009/10/lockheed-martin-awarded-31m-research.html [blogspot.com] ).

Wonder what licensing fees MS will charge for the "Military Networking Protocol" (https://www.fbo.gov/download/afa/afa738a71c6cbdf8024d54ec5e141a1a/2008_10_28_mnp_baa_final.pdf [fbo.gov] ) or whether they'll even allow FOSS apps to license MNP?

Re:Ballmer: "We're not saints" (2, Interesting)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645931)

I hate to say it but your post is an example of fanboyish ranting distracting people from the true nature of the problem. A recent "last time" in most of those cases is actually trivial to find. Microsoft's badness isn't a consistent history of doing everything exactly wrong, it's that they do almost everything right up to the point where it affects their bottom line. Then they'll make decisions which protect their market dominance, decisions which have nasty consequences for everyone else. It's easy to think of a time when Microsoft acted nice, because they need that to shift units. It's the times when they act bad that are worth bringing up.

For completeness:

When was the last time Microsoft did something the customers wanted, instead of forcing them to "take it or leave it".

Probably the Xbox Live software updates consistently dealing with bugs and improving functionality. Pick one.

When was the last time any Office application didn't brake file compatibility with previous versions.

2007 allows you to default to the old Office file formats. They work about the same as in Office 2003.

When was the last time you felt like you actually own a Microsoft software product, and don't have to rent it AND justify yourself every time you need to install it on a new computer?

Office 2007, again. I took advantage of the multi-PC licencing in the EULA which nobody reads.

Last time some Microsoft protocol didn't break compatibility with competing, or even older own protocols?

How can somebody's new protocol break an unrelated other protocol? Or do you mean their implimentation of an existing protocol? I can't answer a query this ill-phrased.

The Gates Comeback (2, Interesting)

kiehlster (844523) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644985)

I said this once before and am still convinced. All this self-inflicted damage is a secret plan to have Bill Gates make a comeback, just like Steve Jobs, and "save" Microsoft. If Bill isn't initially included in this plan of theirs, Ballmer is certainly ensuring that Gates loses enough of his stock gains to force him to come back and work again. Between the goofy ad campaigns and Ballmer's "Microsoft DOES suck" speeches, why wouldn't Microsoft begin to crumble. From the inside.

Microsoft's product? (4, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#29644991)

He added that customers don't want simplicity for the sake of it, claiming that the last time Microsoft tried that route, customer ratings of the firm "plummeted" for two years."

Unless Microsoft sees its product as being licenses rather than software (which is entirely possible, now I think of it) this is daft. People have to interact with the software on a daily basis. They only care about licenses when they get in their way... which is more likely to happen if they don't know what they're buying.

Balance (2, Insightful)

eyepeepackets (33477) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645001)

"Customers always find an approach which pays us less money."

That's okay Steve, Microsoft always finds a way to make clunky, insecure software: There is balance in the Microsoft universe.

Retail Customers (4, Informative)

Fear13ss (917494) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645013)

As a past employee of a Retail store, I know for a fact that they always find a way to make customers pay much more then is necessary for everything they can, up to and including OS's. I don't know how many people were sold on "Media Center" functionality they never used and that's just scratching the surface. As for the Obligatory Open Source comment, our licensing is much more simple. http://www.ubuntu.com/community/ubuntustory/licensing [ubuntu.com]

Re:Retail Customers (1)

swb (14022) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645465)

My wife was in the market for a new computer and at the local Microcenter they had decent refurb machines for $300. Strangely the box I bought (an HP) came with XP Media Center Edition even though the PC itself was some bog standard HP office minitower with no media hardware (other than a lightscribe DVD RW drive and a xd/CF reader).

I don't know how the OS got chosen for this box; my guess was HP did the refurb and the box was actually a return or something from corporate client that had open licensing and HP just slapped on a media center XP license because they had extra. But I guess my point is, I don't doubt that a lot of boxes got media center licenses that were never really meant to be media center PCs.

Re:Retail Customers (1)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 4 years ago | (#29646367)

XP Media Center more or less replaced XP Home at some point, because as far as i know, they cost the same, but Media Center has more functionality

Re:Retail Customers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29645535)

I don't know how many people were sold on "Media Center" functionality they never used and that's just scratching the surface.

And in that case, not just functionality never used, but with XPMC functionality for which the users had to plonk even more money besides the already pricey OS to make it work when it was already relatively trivial to get them on others, either legally oob (mac) or by doing a quick repository check that most users who grew up with DOS probably wouldn't have found too hard (in linux, and iirc some distros actually did that stuff graphically back then already).

To h*ll with the shareholders ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29645329)

The CUSTOMER is - and has always been, and will always be - KING ! Do what your customers demand, at a price they're willing to pay, and tell your shareholders to go scr&w themselves. If you create a happy, loyal customer base, the money will come - in truckloads, usually. Shareholders ? No way to please shareholders, ever - dumb enough to invest, dumb enough to suffer for it.

Even MS can't understand it (4, Informative)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645439)

It's remarkable really. Even MS support can't tell you consistently what you actually need to be legal for a given situation. Call three times with the same scenario and get three different answers.

Talk about business risks, you're just begging to have the BSA commandos sweep in and decide that whatever you guessed (or what MS told you to do) isn't correct and you are now a dirty thief who owes a pile of cash. No, thanks!

If they're going to get all bent out of shape about license compliance, the onus is on them to make it possible to know with certainty what you must do (and spend) in order to be compliant. Given that their own support people aren't sure, I'd say they failed miserably.

5 Simple rules of Microsoft licensing (5, Funny)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645447)

Rule 1: You are out of compliance.
Rule 2; If you have reviewed your licenses and purchased additional licenses to cover any license shortages (plus additional licenses just to be safe), See rule #1.
Rule 3: If you think you understand Microsoft license agreemenents, you are either delirious or just not paying attention.
Rule 4: If you are a lawyer for Microsoft in charge of writing license agreements, see rule #3.
Rule 5: See rule #1.

Re:5 Simple rules of Microsoft licensing (3, Funny)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645921)

Crowley had been extremely impressed with the warranties offered by the computer industry, and had in fact sent a bundle Below to the department that drew up the Immortal Soul agreements, with a yellow memo form attached just saying: "Learn, guys."

- from Good Omens

Re:5 Simple rules of Microsoft licensing (1)

wastedlife (1319259) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645997)

This is great, why did my mod points have to expire?

Back on topic, Microsoft admitted its licensing was ridiculous when it made an MCP certification just for licensing.

Also, MS SQL licensing for virtual servers pisses me off to no end, in that each logical processor is considered 1 CPU. On a normal install, each physical socket with a processor is considered 1 CPU, so multi-core processors can be used to your advantage. On a virtual machine, each core is normally considered 1 logical CPU, so you are stuck buying a license for each core of your processor that you want to give the VM.

well duh... (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645517)

>> "Customers always find an approach which pays us less money.""

Maybe, if you simplified the licencing there wouldnt be as many loopholes, you dummy.

Anyway whats wrong with people optimising their purchasing decisions for cost? sounds perfectly reasonable and normal to me.

Re:well duh... (1)

agnosticnixie (1481609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645571)

Yes, but would "You are about to install Microsoft Windows on your desktop, your soul is ours" work well with the DoJ

Developers Developers Developers Developers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29645591)

Microsoft's licenses takes into account your loopholes!!!!!!!!!

It.... envelops the customer with legalese!!!!

Sing it!

Envelopers, Envelopers, Envelopers, Envelopers! - Beat

Envelopers, Envelopers, Envelopers, Envelopers! - Beat

Envelopers, Envelopers, Envelopers, Envelopers! - Beat

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_AP3SGMxxM

Simple is better! (1)

jhfry (829244) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645607)

Like the US tax code, those with the resources will always pay less. Large corporations actually hire people to do nothing other than manage software licenses. Sure its great that it gives some guy a job, but other than him, who really benefits.

Strange.. (1)

Dotren (1449427) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645679)

but has no plans to change it at the risk of angering shareholders â" and even customers who benefit from the confusion

Somehow, when I read that, it came out all different in my head... something more like:

"but has no plans to change it as the risk of angering the company's customers -- oh yeah, and you little people who buy their software might benefit from it too"

Remember when a company's customers were actually the people buying from them, and not their shareholders... or at least they pretended that was the case?

Sain'ts (1)

BanachSpaceCadet (1464109) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645733)

"I'm sure we have fine print we don't need. We're not saints..." Yes, because saints are always so clear and unambiguous, and never include sayings that aren't needed.

Ballmer is an idiot... (1)

nycguy (892403) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645845)

I never understand why people pay this idiot any attention, nor why shareholders continue to tolerate his "leadership." Yes, Microsoft continues to make a ton of money, and they pay a quarterly dividend and paid a big special dividend a few years ago. However, their share price has gone nowhere in 11 years. He should get "status quo" tattoo'd on his forehead, and perhaps "chair goes here" on his ass so he can remember where it goes after he's done throwing it.

M$ confusing licensing doing us a favor (2, Interesting)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645847)

Part of the reason that several of my past companies/clients drifted away from Microsoft was due to the incredibly complex licensing. You can do XYZ for this price, but only if you have up to N seats. After N+1 seats, you pay using an entirely new cost schedule (could be higher...could be lower)....etc. It got to the point where our "Microsoft sales rep" literally had to periodically visit us and attempt to explain how we could do a project with their tools while not running afoul of some obscure CAL fee that nobody even knew about. Combine that with the never ending upgrade merry-go-round and it is easy to see why companies just throw up their hands and look for a way out.

And the "Understatement of the Year" award goes to (2, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645937)

"We're not saints." -- Steve Ballmer

BING (2, Funny)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 4 years ago | (#29645991)

Bing = Bing Is Not Google!!!

Wow, Microsoft is trying a new approach (0, Troll)

kimvette (919543) | more than 4 years ago | (#29646013)

I, for one, am impressed with this new approach Microsoft is taking. Maybe with Apple's engaging in deceptive and anticompetitive marketing methods, Microsoft saw Apple taking tricks from their play book, so it was time for a new plan.

As you're probably aware, Microsoft has long since peaked. The only place they could go was down - and they have been, what with Vista being an epic fail, Office 2007's ribbon with no menu alternative alienating users, and the "vista compatible" debacle. Microsoft is desperate. Maybe they finally realized this: when all else fails, they could try the honest approach. That's right: honesty is Microsoft's new policy, to distinguish themselves from Apple.

I disagree (3, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#29646041)

"Customers always find an approach which pays us less money." If that were true, wouldn't all of Microsoft's customers already be using Linux? (They still use Microsoft because they believe the costs of rewriting applications and retraining users exceed the cost of licensing the latest releases from Redmond.) I'm not even sure that customers even do a decent job of calculating Total Cost of Ownership, since they frequently neglect the potential cost of security holes, as well as the cost of not saving copies of all your licenses and then getting a visit from the BSA.

Symptom of Doom? (3, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29646073)

Stockholders tend to not care about 10 years down the road. They want their money now. If you are in MS shoes and you are being pressured to return to prior levels of financial growth despite being squeezed by Apple, Google, Linux etc., then the easy way out is to squeeze more licensing fees out of existing customers who's tool stack is based around MS products. They almost *have to* pay. The downside is that resentment is building which will start to bite back down the road. They ran out of logs and are now burning strips of cabin.

Re:Symptom of Doom? (1)

nycguy (892403) | more than 4 years ago | (#29646485)

Per my comment above, stockholders should start caring, because MSFT was higher back in 1998 than it is now. They only thing you're getting with MSFT is a 2.1% dividend yield with no long-term appreciation in share price whatsoever--except for the Nasdaq bubble and a couple of brief periods since then (at the end of the last bull market and the bottom of the crisis), the stock has sat between $20 and $30.

EULA: You may not work around technical limitation (1)

pastorious (821055) | more than 4 years ago | (#29646083)

You know what fine print they don't need, probably can't enforce, and their support staff (or connect.microsoft.com) implies that you violate when they ask for workarounds when reporting an issue with their software?

In the section "SCOPE OF LICENSE" it actually says you can't work around limitations. Not sure when this was added, but it's in Office 2007, Visual Studio 2008, Silverlight, and who knows what else:

You may not: work around any technical limitations in the software

I have no idea why any license would specify that the user is not allowed to work around technical limitations. For one thing, there's not really any way to tell if a user is working around a limitation. And if users are working around a limitation, the software maker probably wants them to do that, rather than have end users just sit and complain that they can't do something because of some limitation. On top of that, these are applications that provide gigantic macro/scripting infrastructure and SDK's for automation so that you can build workarounds for any limitation in the software.

At that point, at least one of the following must be applicable:
1) there isn't anything left that could even vaguely classify as a limitation (and you paid a lawyer to write this in the EULA for nothing)
2) you paid a bunch of programmers to add extensibility features into your software that your end users aren't allowed to use
3) you also forgot to tell the product support team that anyone who calls in with a workaround has violated the terms of their agreement and needs to return the software

I guess at this point, the licensor should decide if the goal as a company is to sell and support software or to create overly restrictive and unenforcable license agreements, and quit wasting money on either the lawyers or the developers and support staff. As a licensee, I would probably just ignore all the B.S. so I can get my work done, and I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for Microsoft to go all Metallica/RIAA and crack down on users violating their insane, counter-productive EULA. That is, unless my work is writing a book on workarounds to the lack of UTF-64 support in VBA that's keeping me from supporting the native character set of half the countries on the third planet from Alpha Centauri. Which it isn't, by the way.

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